2017 has been an incredibly busy year for Arrow in several areas. Our Arrow Video and Arrow Academy labels have gone from strength to strength, with over 100 releases on Arrow Video in the UK alone, plus many more in both the US and Canada including some great exclusives such as Re-Animator for these territories. Arrow Academy saw around 50 releases in the UK, including several incredible box-sets, plus also launched in the US and Canada early in the year.
Elsewhere our Arrow Films label released several theatricals on both side of the pond, (such as Whisky Galore, Donnie Darko and Zoology), and we continued to add great titles to the label’s DVD and Blu-ray slate with highly-regarded films such as Gleason, Scribe and Clash.
We also rebooted our TV label, creating the brand Arrow TV to incorporate great serial drama from around the world such as Gomorrah and Narcos in partnership with our fantastic Nordic Noir catalogue. Arrow TV also launched on Amazon Channels in December, joining the already successful Arrow Video channel on this platform. And finally, we also launched two new product lines with Arrow Records and Arrow Books. Aiming to release at least one product a month on each label, both areas are committed to the incredibly high-standards we undertake for our film releases, and we have lots already lined up in both areas for 2018.
So with such a great year, staff at Arrow HQ have taken a moment or two to reflect on their own particular favourite releases, or events, of 2017, listed below in no particular order. We hope you’ve enjoyed some of our releases from 2017 just as much as we have, and we look forward to sharing many more great titles with you in 2018.
Director of Content and Distribution
2017 was a very busy year. We launched Academy in North America which coincided with that label’s expansion from a couple of a titles a month to four or five (two of which are usually in the US / Canada). We released more titles theatrically and brought these titles to our labels, modern masterpieces like Aquarius and thrilling cult films in the making like The Ghoul. So, the choice has been greater than ever and whilst I’ve loved many of our releases I have three standouts as projects rather than as films or releases, because each was unique.
1. The Woody Allen Collection
I love Woody’s films and it’s only by watching a lot you can appreciate his range I think, but what was interesting about this project was Woody’s involvement in approving the posters, which posed an interesting design challenge, as well as ensuring we didn’t produce any disc extras (he prefers the films to speak for themselves). So, we really had challenges which felt quite anti-Arrow – new artwork and extras are things that make our releases distinctive but we proved (to ourselves if no one else!) we can approach things in different ways and this is still teaching us even now how to approach titles in the future.
2. Four Film Noir Classics
Producing content where pretty much all the talent has passed on is an incredible challenge and I really wanted these releases to have a lot because each has interesting people involved, themes and are just great films. What was great about this release was being able to work with so many talented people and trying to always keep it so that people wouldn’t overlap, with one video extra being about a director and then something else being about themes and so on. Which I hope had made for satisfying viewing experience!
3. Eric Rohmer Collection
I actually started producing this set in early 2013 (Anthony Nield later took the reins), we had been assured that the new restorations, by CNC, were stunning but sadly they suffered from issues which affected many masters around that time and I was disappointed to see the films looked like a smeary bricolage of noise and artificial grain and all sorts other nastiness so we shelved the project but kept a number of essays and research and ideas in a folder until the films had been looked at again. Happily, they were vastly improved and we now have a big chunk of great Rohmer films on Blu-ray, his Comedies and Proverbs are for me, one of the highlights of French cinema. This project is possibly in the lead now for longest ever gestating Arrow release!
There were loads of standout releases for me this year, including some of my all-time favourite films; Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Raising Cain, We are the Flesh, Marx Brothers, Re-Animator, One-eyed Jacks, The Tree of Wooden Clogs, A Fish Called Wanda, The Apartment and possibly two of my favourite ever horror films The Thing and Carrie.
1. The Legend of the Holy Drinker
There are two chief pleasures in producing Blu-ray / DVD editions for Arrow. On the one hand, we have the opportunity to provide definitive releases of cult classics and fan favourites – this year has seen us work on John Carpenter’s The Thing and Brian De Palma’s Carrie, for example, presenting stacked releases and outstanding presentations. On the other, we are able to bring sadly forgotten films into view again. The Legend of the Holy Drinker was one such title, released in both the UK and the US for the first time since its original VHS outings. It’s a remarkable film, one that truly gets under the skin, featuring the beautiful cinematography of Dante Spinotti (now treated to a jaw-dropping in-house 4K restoration) and one of the decade’s finest performances from Rutger Hauer. It was a particular joy to have Rutger involved in the release – he had gotten wind of our new restoration and emailed out of the blue to offer his support and endorsement, which resulted in a brand-new interview for the disc.
2. The Éric Rohmer Collection
A release that was a long time in the works and has finally resulted in a beautiful boxed-set. (A special shout-out to Matt Griffin here for his gorgeous artwork.) One of the chief pleasures on this one was the opportunity to dive deep into the French television archives and discover numerous gems which, in many cases, hadn’t been seen since their original transmission. French TV provided Rohmer with plenty of coverage over the years – Perceval was treated to two episodes of Ciné regards, for example, documenting its making and promoting its release, while film festival reports allowed a wealth of interviews with cast and crew. There were also documentary profiles on actors and technicians, and it’s a real treat to be able to make these all available once again. Plus, ten exceptional features from one of France’s finest filmmakers, of course, and a hefty book containing new writing on all of those from some of the best critics writing today.
3. The Ghoul
In contrast to the archive digging for Rohmer (and for Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, for that matter, which deservedly won an Il Cinema Ritrovato DVD award for Best Extras), The Ghoul, being a new feature, required special features to be made from scratch. For this release, we worked closely with the filmmakers and were granted access to the vast majority of the cast and crew. Over the course of two days, I was able to sit down with each of them while a camera ran, to discuss the film’s conception, production and the bigger picture of the British film industry, resulting in hours and hours of footage which we gradually whittled down (shout out here to Ian Mantgani and his patience!) into a 40-minute ‘making-of’ of which I’m incredibly proud. This was supplemented by a commentary track and one of director Gareth Tunley’s short films (with its own, very funny, commentary). The main aim in producing this release to was to give a new film the ‘Arrow Video treatment’ – i.e., for it to have all the bells and whistles that an older title would – and I believe we pulled it off.
Other highlights: being able to sit back and enjoy titles on which I had no input and enjoy them as a normal punter would – The Thing, Ronin, Wolf Guy and many, many others. Also, spending more than a week in Los Angeles for Beyond Fest and getting to talk our US fans, all of them a delight.
Theatrical Sales Manager
Working in Theatrical, it feels like a cheat for me to rate the ever-extending list of brilliant Arrow Video and Arrow Academy releases, as my job is mostly spent talking about and working with new releases. So, I will (mostly) refrain from doing that and focus on the new releases that Arrow have had this year. We have had a very busy year with theatrical releases, 22 UK releases in total, which is more than the previous 2 years combined - certainly a lot of titles to choose from.
It’s fair to say, this film broke me. Being a fan of American Football, I was slightly aware of Stephen Gleason and his story, but mostly from New Orleans Saints fans, as Gleason’s on field achievements slightly pre-dated my adoration of the sport. And I had a vague knowledge of his health post-football and involvement in raising awareness for ALS. But this documentary surpassed all of my interest levels and hit me on another level. Even more than football and health, it was as a father and son story that really moved me. It was brutally honest, passionate and deeply moving.
2. Hounds of Love
Another tough but rewarding film to watch, although completely different to Gleason. I still can’t believe that this was a debut film from Ben Young. The style and management of tone were so confident and assured, and the performances that he elicited from a talented but largely unknown cast makes his performance as director even stronger. The film has really stayed with me and haunted me. And I want to add a special mention for the film’s use of songs and how I will never hear those songs again with having flashbacks to the film.
3. The Tree of Wooden Clogs (RE)
I have cheated somewhat here but I feel like it can be justified. As well as our array of impressive new releases, what is brilliant about working at Arrow, from a theatrical perspective, is that we can re-release some of our titles theatrically to tie in our home entertainment release. And as there is no better way to watch films on the big screen, I feel like I can include one of our re-releases here. I had never seen The Tree of Wooden Clogs before this year, but am certainly glad I have now. The beauty of the film is in the detail, and the poetry of everyday life. And Ermanno Olmi understands this brilliantly. A true intimate epic.
Honourable Mention (Home Entertainment Release) – The Thing
No one can work at Arrow without becoming obsessed with our home entertainment releases. The Thing is not only my favourite horror film, but also one of my favourite films of all time. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen the film, but I still get so much out of it on every watch. The design, performances, effects, tension and mastery of such a simple idea never fails to amaze me.
Senior Marketing Manager
1. Future Shock: The Story of 2000AD
Although this amazing documentary on 2000AD (a compulsory weekly purchase for me for over 25 years!) had already been released, we were able to re-license it for an Arrow Video release this year. Through existing contacts we had with the filmmakers, we were finally able to give the film the justice it deserved by adding in over 6 hours of bonus footage and interviews. It was also a personal highlight for me to be able to commission legendary artist Jock for a brand-new cover, and he was an absolute joy to work with.
2. The Villainess
Seeing this film for the first time at the Midnight Screening in Cannes was an incredible experience. The action in the film is truly exhilarating and it took the breath away of everyone in the 2,000 seater Palais that night, earning a well-deserved standing ovation. We were able to give the film a great UK Premiere at London’s FrightFest in August, and released it in cinemas and on digital platforms before the DVD and Blu-ray release shortly after.
Perhaps my favourite horror film of all time (it’s a tough choice – Texas Chainsaw, The Thing, Dawn of the Dead and Cannibal Holocaust all jostle for that position depending on my mood at any point), it was great to see the amazing job the team did on this release. From the absolutely gorgeous artwork, down to the new film transfer and extras, this is one release I will treasure for a long time!
Honourable mentions to great films I also had the privilege to work on include Hounds of Love, Headshot and The Ghoul, plus also being able to manage a great US theatrical run for Donnie Darko. Personal favourite releases from the rest of the team include Gleason, The Thing, Pieces, Brain Damage, Alfredo Garcia, Psycho II, Miracle Mile, The 4 Marx Brothers and The Apartment.
Aside from releases, it was great to be able to expand our Events presence with three conventions in the US and two in Canada. The standout of those was presenting sponsor at Texas Frightmare, a fantastic event with great guests and incredibly hospitable hosts and amazing fans. We will definitely be planning in more UK, US and Canadian events in 2018 so please stay tuned. Equally, it was great to launch the Arrow Video Podcast – now 12 episodes in and still going strong – and launch our brand-new website at the end of the year.
1. The Hunt (Jagten)
The recent Arrow Academy release of The Hunt served as a somewhat nostalgic reminder to me of one of the first theatrical releases I manged in 2012, after joining Arrow at the beginning of that year. We had been riding on a huge Nordic Noir craze with our own hit box-sets of The Killing & Borgen when we acquired the rights to The Hunt, from script, pre the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. I am a huge fan of Thomas Vinterberg’s debut film, his (Dogme 95 rules) Festen, and also the work of Mads Mikkelsen, who had previously impressed me in Susanne Bier’s, After the Wedding and as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, and when we first viewed the finished feature at the black tie premiere at the Le Palais Du Festivals, we knew we had a very special film on our hands. I was delighted to bring Thomas Vinterberg to the London Film festival that year and also to gain a win at the BIFA (The British Independent Film Awards)– for Best International Feature, as well as a coveted BAFTA nomination for Best Film - not in the English Language. The film stands the test of time, and will continue to do so and I’m very pleased to see it now on our esteemed Academy label.
2. The Bureau – Seasons 1 & 2
We release a lot of great drama on our Arrow TV label, and this contemporary French espionage thriller series is one of the very best examples we have in our ever-growing library. Borrowing heavily from the more humdrum of spy genres, as epitomised by the works of John Le Carre, you get a very real sense of authenticity here in The Bureau, as well as very well-drawn characters each with their own subtle nuances, all impressively realised via a cast of first rate actors, including the superb Mathieu Kassovitz (of Amelie and La Haine fame). The series is bang up-to-date in terms of world-events (at the time of production), and it is often nail-bitingly tense, despite its realistically routine driven espionage narrative.
I found the visceral, satirical violence and humour of Catfight to be both thrilling and exhilarating in equal measure. Anne Heche and Sandra Oh are truly magnificent as ex-college acquaintances, driven by the modern ails of status anxiety and petty jealousy. When they really start going at each other, hammer-and-tongs with their bare fists in a stairwell, it is genuinely shocking, particularly intensified by the sort of sound design you might expect in a Van Damme movie. In light of recent political shifts, I found the offbeat, comedic narrative to be especially prescient and certainly akin to a long-running series that I also love, Arrested Development.
1. The Thing
My # 1 horror film of all time! I also love the artwork on this set and the restoration in 4k I think is some of the best work we have ever done. We’ve also had so much positive feedback on this set, it’s great to have released this seminal classic
2. The Villainess
This was one of our first new release products onto Arrow Video and I liked the release strategy, it was a true Multi-platform release and gave the consumers the choice of Theatrical, VOD or Physical. It’s also got one of the best action final scenes of a film that stays imprinted in your mind forever
3. The Apartment
Another personal favourite of mine that looks great under the Arrow Academy label. A challenge to respect the originality of the film with the outstanding new artwork that was, in my opinion, done superbly. For such an old film, it was an achievement to source and produce the amount of quality new material from so many different sources that made its way onto this release
Head of Sales
1. The Thing:
One of my all-time favourite films. I was so pleased to see it given the Arrow Video treatment and the 4k restoration is superb. What I love about the film is that I see new things every time I watch it. Fantastic artwork too.
I first watched this film when I was a teenager and so it has a special place in my heart. It is often included in horror top50 lists and it’s easy to see why. Such a well-made film, culminating in a great final scene. A genuine classic.
3. Hounds of Love
Australian-cinema often doesn’t get the credit that it deserves. The film reminded me of Snowtown, another disturbing Australian horror-thriller, from a few years ago. The film is incredibly difficult to watch at times - especially as you know it is based on actual events - but powerfully compelling.
1. Hounds Of Love
A confident and deftly wielded debut from director Ben Young. The film takes dark and disturbing subject matter and manages to build rich and nuanced characters we can empathise with. Even those who commit atrocities. The craft, the score, the razor sharp tension and the stunning performances provides us with a compelling and harrowing tale of survival.
When I first watched the film in the cinema, and the audience heard that blood curdling scream – you know the one if you’ve seen it – I looked around and saw people hiding behind their hands and looking visibly shaken. In that moment it was clear to me that not only did that moment work due to the audience’s investment in the characters, but it clinched that Hounds Of Love won’t soon be forgotten. It’s not only my top Arrow release this year, but one of my favourite films of the year.
2. The Thing
What is there left to say about The Thing? It’s one of the best horror films ever made and like everyone else at Arrow, I was overjoyed that we got to release it.
I was far too young when I first saw The Thing but my older brother insisted on it… I was thoroughly terrified by the kennel scene as a youth, and when I watched it again the other night I confess I was almost equally as disturbed. Poor doggies! Also, Kurt Russell surely has the greatest hair and beard ensemble of all time in cinema as MacReady?
Who knew that a film about a middle aged Russian woman who grows a fleshy tail and embarks on a quest of self-discovery would be so darkly comedic, heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure?
As a disc producer, 2017 has seen me overseeing an eclectic range of titles, from Hollywood golden age classics (THE APARTMENT) to quirky post-apocalyptic 80s indies (MIRACLE MILE). My first love, however, remains Italian genre cinema, and the films of Dario Argento in particular, and with that in mind, my favourite Arrow release of the last twelve months, and the title I'm personally the proudest of, is our deluxe 4-disc edition of his 1985 shocker PHENOMENA.
We really went all out for this release, from the stellar new 4K restoration supervised by my colleague James White, to the exhaustive feature-length documentary directed by Federico Caddeo, to my own personal contribution to this release: the painstaking reassembly, from the new restoration, of both the 110-minute international and 83-minute American (a.k.a. CREEPERS) cuts of the film, as well as a new "hybrid" audio track for the full-length 116-minute cut, allowing viewers to experience the film in as close as possible to a seamless English-language presentation.
More man-hours went into our release of PHENOMENA than any title I've worked on for Arrow so far, and the results certainly bear out the blood, sweat and tears that went into making it. I hope everyone is as satisfied with the end result as I am.
Head of Catalogue
It’s hard to single out just one title that we’ve released this year, with so many unseen gems through to massive studio canon titles, I’m struggling to pick just one release out. So, I’m going to call out two!
1. The Thing
Firstly, dipping into the studio arena; THE THING, what a smashing release, not only did we manage to break our own website on announcement (sorry!), but apparently Amazon were having a hard time coping with the traffic! The release itself is a beauty, the packaging is glorious, and the extras literally cover every outpost.
2. The Taisho Trilogy
Second, tackling the unseen gems, I really need to call out THE TAISHO TRILOGY. These films are regarded by Japanese critics as Suzuki’s finest hour but have been purged into obscurity by western audiences who only seem to have experienced his more violent features. Again, a luxurious package with academic appreciation on the extras, it’s been a pleasure to release these wonderful films.
Moving into 2018 we have a host of treats for fans of all genres of cinema, and we hope you'll all be as excited about them as we are. I’m looking forward to you all joining us in being too weird to live, and too rare to die.
Head of Technical/Restoration
1. The Apartment
2. The Thing
3. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Overseeing new restorations of both The Apartment and The Thing, two of my favourite films in any category, were certainly the two high points of the year for me. These were films I’d already seen countless times and presumed to know fairly intimately, but the experience of working with the original negative elements scene by scene and frame-by-frame continued to reveal new treasures. Ordinarily after I’ve completed a restoration it’ll be some time before I’ll want to watch the film again, but I could watch either of these any day of the week. Neither The Apartment or The Thing has aged one iota, and remain two of the most perfect movies ever made.
Other highlights of 2017:
Restoring three Dario Argento masterworks (Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Phenomena and Cat O’Nine Tails), with special thanks to the invaluable expertise of my colleague Michael Mackenzie, someone who knows more about Argento and Giallo than is probably healthy. Bird remains my personal favourite, and the film was treated to a sold-out premiere screening at the Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, where the maestro Argento himself told me that this was the best his film had ever looked.
Working with DOP Robert Fraisse on Ronin. Robert lensed the first Emmanuelle film and had for years after been pigeonholed as the go-to cinematographer for softcore/erotic European cinema. So when the opportunity arose to shoot a breakneck-paced Parisian thriller filled with car chases for John Frankenheimer, he leapt at the chance. The cold-steel, razor-sharp imagery he created for that film was about as far away from draping a nylon stoking over the lens as I can imagine.
The Legend of the Holy Drinker. This was a film I’d never seen and had barely been aware of, yet restoring this beautiful, quiet and exquisitely photographed late masterpiece by Ermanno Olmi was one of my most treasured experiences of the year.
This year my heart goes to our release of Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. Not only because it is Peckinpah's quintessential film and Warren Oates most insanely daring performance, but also for our 4K restoration from camera neg which is seriously outstanding - by far the best version that's ever been seen on digital. On top of the stellar restoration, this release is packed with nearly 15 hours of extras, making it our most packed release of the year. The 10-hour long uncut, never seen in full interviews literally brought tears to my eyes. Absolute gold for any Peckinpah fan!
Brutal, stunning, melancholic, fatalistic and alienating - this is THE definitive edition of a unique and challenging masterpiece. A must-have!
Community Development Manager
1. The Taisho Trilogy
As a big fan of the late, great Suzuki I was so pleased that we were able to bring The Taisho Trilogy to Blu-ray for the first time outside of Japan. Suzuki’s surrealistic flourishes are out in force and each film is absolutely stunning and shine in High-def. The newly commissioned Corey Brickley was also phenomenal and really tied the set together.
2. Brain Damage
This was a great title to work on as we really went all out on this release with a slew of excellent extras, a slipcase and our first foray into enamel pins. Being able to fly out and work with the fantastic folks at Texas Frightmare to launch our US version of the release at the con back in May 2017 with Frank Henenlotter and Rick Hearst in attendance was a huge highlight for me – especially being able to see how pleased everyone was with the set first hand. Make sure to keep an eye out for Basket Case which is heading to the US next Feb!
3. Evil Ed
I’ve had a soft spot for Evil Ed since my sister and I picked up a beat up VHS copy of the film at a car boot when we were kids so I was so excited to hear we acquired the title. Our 3 disc release (2 Blu-ray, 1 DVD) was absolutely stacked with content – including 2 cuts of the film and an epic three hour doc to keep you engrossed in the insanity for hours!
We’ve released some really fantastic titles this year so it was really difficult to whittle my list down to just three, so honourable mentions have to go out to Hounds of Love, The Thing, Children of the Corn and Wolf Guy.